Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 3.djvu/166

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an assistant as Nancy, and must (thus Fagin argued) be secured without delay.

There was another and a darker object to be gained. Sikes knew too much, and his ruffian taunts had not galled the Jew the less because the wounds were hidden. The girl must know well that if she shook him off, she could never be safe from his fury, and that it would be surely wreaked—to the maiming of limbs, or perhaps the loss of life—on the object of her more recent fancy. "With a little persuasion," thought Fagin, "what more likely than that she would consent to poison him? Women have done such things, and worse, to secure the same object before now. There would be the dangerous villain—the man I hate—gone; another secured in his place; and my influence over the girl, with the knowledge of this crime to back it, unlimited."

These things passed through the mind of Fagin during the short time he sat alone in the housebreaker's room; and with them uppermost in his thoughts, he had taken the opportunity afterwards afforded him of sounding the girl in